Personality Conflict – Are you Right for Your Horse

by Lynda A. Brogdon, Ph.D., C.E.D.S., C.E.A.T.

Dreams become realities when we remember to follow them. As a child, maybe it was simply the chance to see a horse that was enough to settle your urgent yearning to have one of your own. Or maybe riding a horse at a nearby stable was as far as your dreams could possibly carry you.

As adults we sometimes forget to honor our childhood dreams. No longer dependent on parental permission or financial assistance, some of us decide to obtain the object of our girlhood affection — our horse. We buy our first horse; one that meets our requirements for breed, color, age, size, gender and price. Then, after a period of complete devotion and obsessive behavior we realize something is missing.

We mistakenly reasoned that our life-long dream was fulfilled with the purchase of our trusty steed. We forgot, however, that what we really longed for was a relationship, not just ownership. We forgot to consider the weighty correlation between our personality and that of our new horse.

WHAT’S YOUR STYLE

PLEASER: Sensitive to others. Does not want others to be upset with them and sometimes sacrifices their own desires to please someone else.

CONTROLLER: Needs to be in control at all times to avoid feeling anxious. Rules are important and the unexpected is avoided. Does well in structured situations but has difficulty with flexibility.

SUPERIORITY SEEKER: Plays the part of being overworked. Does not have many friends or close relationships. Looks for challenges that showcase strengths or superiority.

COMFORT SEEKER: Avoids being uncomfortable through physical pain or emotional stress. Usually depends on feelings to guide their decisions.

Everyday life preempts us from focusing too much on the nature of our own personality. We pay little attention to the “whys” of our decisions. Then, without much introspection about your own traits, we buy an equine companion presumed to be a match for us. Some of us find our complement; others are met with disappointment.

Personality is reflected in all our choices, including the selection of a horse. Think about your unique character and how it shapes your life. Are you controlling? Are you pleasing? Superiority seeking or comfort seeking? Such insights can lead you to potential matches or expose probable clashes with the personality styles of our equine friends.

Human personality is more than a sum of character traits; however, traits provide a label for our behaviors. We may be described as introverted or extroverted, passive, bossy, shy, funny or calm. These traits help us understand our world. Take a look at the four personality styles listed in this article and see where you fit. Most people have characteristics of several different styles.

Horses don’t think the way humans do. They readily sense mood changes and respond best to calm and consistent behavior. According to Linda Tellington-Jones, the best way to determine a horse’s personality is to study the physical characteristics of her head. In her book, Equine Awareness Method, she chronicles these relationships.

Examine the horse’s profile, she advises. Horses with straight faces are generally “uncomplicated” whereas horses with “dished” faces are timid and more complex. Within a breed, shorter or more closely set ears suggest the horse may be hard to handle and “unreliable.”

As for eyes, a horse with large round eyes is generally friendly, whereas small eyes warn “temperamental.” Alert eyes often mean smart and quick-thinking. Half closed eyes imply boredom and loss of spirit. And a wide flat forehead is indicative of a quick learner, Tellington-Jones observes.

All this considered, take a very long look at your long-awaited equine acquisition before you make him your own. Compare your personality style to his, and carefully regard how he or she makes you feel when you’re together.

l November / December 2005 www.women-horses.com